I’ve just started ballet class again after at least twenty years. I’m nowhere near John’s age, but I’m still older than everyone in my class. Difficult though it is, I love the rigour of the exercises, and I feel stronger
and more balanced for this weekly struggle. Some weeks I feel like giving up. Other weeks everything comes together and I feel as if I’m really dancing again – a great feeling.
I was recently thinking about the difference between class when I was young, and class now. As a Pilates teacher I’m stronger in some ways than I was before, and I have the advantage of years of teaching movement. All this helps even though it’s not nearly so easy to jump, leap and turn as it was then. For
the first few weeks I’d completely forgotten the names of the steps, so once we’d left the barre I was all at sea. Determined not to give up I kept some semblance of a dance going, and somehow fluffed my way through the enchainments. I used to be very quick at picking up sequences. Now I’m slow and rely on my
sense of movement to get me through. Do what you think it is and you might hit the right note! I found that if I thought about the exercises between classes, even without practising them, it was easier the next week. The movements are there in my muscle memory. The main problem, apart from stiffer joints, is the
speed and the shifts of weight. Now why is that so much harder these days? Will that too become easier?
Despite all this the liberating thing is that nothing is expected of me – I don’t need to be bone-thin and beautiful, or to impress anyone. I can dance for the sake of it, muddle through and still find a sense of flow. And there’s no age restriction on learning more about the mechanics of movement, physiology
and kinaesthetics. There’s always something I can apply to my own teaching.
John Lowe, smiling down at me from my wall is a bit of an icon for me. I hope wherever he is that he’s still dancing. And I hope I too will dance into my old age.